September 28, 1946 – May 13, 2019
Lewis Debassige was a descendant of Gchi Ogaa and Niibaakhom, a proud Anishinaabe, a scholar, a warrior, an advocate, a teacher and an Elder. Lewis was a great man who lived his life to the fullest making lasting contributions to all aspects of life for the Anishinaabek. In 1969, Lewis was a part of the “magnificent seven”, a group of young Anishinaabe scholars who worked together to counter the White Paper Policy introduced by the Federal Government. This important work created the Red Paper Policy: Citizens Plus, designed to protect the sovereignty and rights of the Indigenous People. In 1972, Lewis co-authored Indian Control of Indian Education, a national policy document that is still applicable today. Lewis was a visionary and an influential Anishinaabe warrior with values rooted in the oral teachings of his grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Lewis was a founder of many institutions, including Waubetek and Kenjgewin Teg. He was a lecturer at many Universities and Colleges. Lewis’ counsel was sought by many leaders over the decades across Turtle Island. Lewis had a deep love for his community of M’Chigeeng, a deep love for his family and was a huge sports enthusiast. He was a former Band Councillor and a Director of Education for several First Nations. He has many nieces, nephews and cousins that he was very proud of and often shared stories of their successes from the past, the present and future hopes and dreams. Lewis was a huge support to many people across Turtle Island and was always willing to share his knowledge and wisdom every chance he got. Lewis will most of all be remembered for his humble nature, his deep love and commitment to community and to the Anishinaabek, and his willingness to go on many adventures with his close friends, colleagues and family. Lewis will also be remembered for his articulate words, classy style, dance moves, his charm, his wit and sense of humour. His legacy will continue to live on through his lifetime work, his family, his students, his many friends and the Anishinabek community. In his final hours, he left with the following words: “Keep up the fight, and I love you all”. Born to Josette (nee Toulouse) and Lazare Debassige at the old homestead in West Bay on September 28, 1946. Loving brother of Mike Debassige (Winnie “Pam” predeceased) of M’Chigeeng, Julie Debassige of Toronto, Christine McGregor (Robert) of Toronto, Marion Debassige (predeceased) (Douglas), Margaret Manitowabi (predeceased), Peter Debassige (predeceased) (Bessie) and Martha Simmers (predeceased) (Bill). Survived by 19 nieces and nephews and 26 great-nieces and nephews. Services at M’Chigeeng Complex, visitation was from 1 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2019. Funeral service was 4 pm Friday, May 27, 2019 followed by cremation. Donations can be made to the Lewis Debassige Memorial Education Fund.